Performing rights are the right to perform music in public. It is part of copyright law and requires payment to the music’s composer/lyricist and publisher (with the royalties generally split 50/50 between the two). Public performance means that a musician or group who is not the copyright holder is performing a piece of music live, as opposed to the playback of a pre-recorded song. Performances are considered "public" if they take place in a public place and the audience is outside of a normal circle of friends and family, including concerts, nightclubs, restaurants etc. Public performance also includes broadcast and cable television, radio, and any other transmitted performance of a live or previously recorded song.

Permission to publicly perform a song must be obtained from the copyright holder or a collective rights organization.  In the United States, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR are the largest rights organizations for the licensing of performance rights.

PRO Licences do not allow the licensee to create sheet music that is to be used in their performance.  That is a different right not granted by the PRO Licensor.

So that there is no confusion over this issue, please contact the following PRO organizations for clarification:

ASCAP - Samuel Mosenkis – phone number (212) -621-6450, email is

BMI - Deirdre Chadwick for questions about arrangements of pop songs (212) 220-3176

SESAC - Jonathan Farmer, Vice President, General Licensing, Phone: (615) 963-3501